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What happens if child support payments are not made?

When New Jersey parents divorce or separate, a considerable amount of time may be spent deciding issues of custody and support. When it comes to child support, the court enters an order based on statutory guidelines and any extenuating circumstances that may exist in a particular case. From this point forward, the custodial parents expects to receive court-ordered payments each month to help support the couple's children. However, what happens if the non-custodial parent fails to comply with the order?

The obligor is ordinarily given the opportunity to make the missing payments before any further actions are taken. If the payments are not made, then additional enforcement options are available to compel the non-custodial parent to pay. Wage garnishments -- in which payments are taken directly out of the parent's paychecks -- are often used to collect current and back payments. Additional collection tools are available such as a bank account levy or seizure of income tax refunds.

If the past-due support reaches a certain level, the non-custodial parent could have his or her driver's license or professional license suspended. That parent may not be able to obtain a United States passport. It does not matter whether the parent owing the support leaves New Jersey -- the financial obligation to pay remains, and enforcement efforts can be made in the new state of residence.

If a non-custodial parent's financial circumstances substantially changed from the time the original order was entered, which has made it difficult to comply with the order, it may be possible to have it modified. The parents should not enter into their own agreement without court approval. The non-custodial parent will still be obligated for the amounts owed under the child support order regardless of any such agreement. Further, going to court to request a modification also allows the custodial parent to weigh in on the issue.

Source: yourdailyjounal.com, "When parents don't pay child support", Bellonora McCallum, June 26, 2015

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